Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

There is a whiff of Coen brothers-style Fargo absurdity to this inky black comedy thriller, but it is married to a cool, dry wit that puts it in the good company of other recent Scandinavian hits such as Troll Hunter, Headhunters and Rare Exports. That it comes from the pen of Jo Nesbø - who wrote Headhunters, so far the highest-grossing language film at the UK box office this year - also goes some way to explaining why it has already been picked up for distribution on these shores by Metrodome. The main reason for that, however, is that it is very good.

Beginning with the sort of hook most directors only dream of, we meet Oscar Svendson (Kyrre Hellum) in a police interview room. He is being quizzed by Detective Solør (Henrik Mestad, deliciously deadpan) about how he came to be at the heart of a stripclub massacre, found crawling out from under one of eight corpses with a shotgun in his hands. It seems as if Oscar has had a very bad day. And yet, we will soon learn that it began as probably the best in his life, thanks to the fact he won a fortune on an accumulator football bet. The downside? His fellow winners put the crime into their 'syndicate'.

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Director Magnus Martens - who also adapted the screenplay from Nesbø's story - skilfully weaves together snippets of post-carnage Oscar with flashbacks to how he came to be in this predicament. But is he a hapless innocent abroad or the criminal mastermind that Solør suspects? Hellum keeps us guessing as to Oscar's true feelings, playing him with a bewilderment that might just be hiding something else, while Mestad steals every scene his is in. The triumvirate of criminals, sociopathic Billy (Arthur Berning), perma-happy Dan (Andreas Cappelen) and dim-witted Thor (Mads Ousdal) may be little more than one-trick ponies, but their fates are deftly handled and, given the body count, never less than inventive.

Pulpy it may be but Martens keeps the action moving at speed and never fails to mine a scene for humour. If - as the director told me he feared at Tribeca Film Festival - one or two of the verbal jokes are lost in translation, it certainly doesn't show and there is a wealth of visual and aural comedy on offer. From the 'thunk' of finished products on a Christmas tree production line, to a spot of late-night home renovation and a running gag with a sunbed, Martens knows how to create a culmulative effect. Jackpot may swim in much darker waters than Martens lightly humorous film debut United but it still retains an enviable amount of charm, despite some unexpectedly crunching violence. The only thing Martens takes seriously is his humour - and it pays off handsomely.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2012
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A man tells a detective how he came to be in a Lotto trouble.
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Director: Magnus Martens

Writer: Magnus Martens, based on a story by Jo Nesbø

Starring: Kyrre Hellum, Henrik Mestad, Marie Blokhus, Mads Ousdal, Andreas Cappelen, Arthur Berning, Lena Kristin Ellingsen, Jan Grønli, Fridtjov Såheim, Peter Andersson, Eirik Daleng

Year: 2011

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: Norway


Tribeca 2012
EIFF 2012

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